Popular throughout the ages in Europe, you may have seen us in paintings by the Dutch and Flemish masters. But, we got a bum rap in the U.S. in the 1920's and are still recovering from that tarnished reputation (we’re actually quite shiny, have beautiful taut skin, and travel well). Federal prohibition resulted from fears that we spread a fungus (which doesn't really bother us fruits, but is murder on white pines). The law was changed in 1966, although some states and counties still ban our growth. ('Honest Ag officers, it wasn't even us; it was our relative, the gooseberry.') We come primarily from three species of deciduous shrubs and we fruit in reds or whites. (You may also know our black relative.) Our flowers and fruits are born near the bases of first year stems, and then higher up on more mature plants. We're relatively little fruits, but you'll find a whole bunch of us hanging out together. Pick our entire sprig to enjoy our sweet tart firm berries. If you want to eat us out of hand, leave us on the bush for a few extra weeks to sweeten. Now that we've escaped the law, we're harvested in the States from June to August and we arrive from New Zealand from December to February. Believe us when we say we're unmatched for jelly, pie, and sauces, as well as mixed with other fruits. Our whites make sweet summer table wine; our reds make hearty English mead. In Early America, we could be found preserved and dried in many a pantry. We're low in calories and sodium and contain vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Don't confuse us with the minute dried guys who look like raisins and come from Greece. (Oh, and that small-sized tomato borrowed its name from us.)
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The answer to last week's quiz: SUGAR SNAP PEAS
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